The In-Between Place

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I’m in the in-between place right now, and it’s uncomfortable.

I’m melancholy and grieving the loss of the Annoyance Theatre NY all the time. The theater closes in a week. I keep flashing to the moments and heartache and joy it took to build it. The toll it took on me and what I learned from it. It’s very sad that it’s closing, but it’s probably a new beginning. I’m calling myself an artist these days to people I meet, as opposed to the guy who once created a theater in NY and is hoping to now be an artist.

I get bored easily. I percolate between writing my thoughts down or just thinking them endlessly. My attention span is short. I’m smoking too many cigarettes. And it’s not even nice out yet.

I read too many lists on “How To Be Happy and Productive” on Medium.com. I check my stats on socials every hour for a little hit of dopamine because someone noticed me. I log into my email obsessively, waiting for someone to need or want me for something. I’m on my phone in parks.

I’m stuffing my face with food and beer to feel better at night. I’ve put on eight pounds or so, despite keeping active. The weight-gaining antidepressant I’m on probably isn’t helping.

Today, I left voicemails and texted a bunch of old friends out of the blue. It seems no one really picks up the phone anymore unless you schedule the call. One friend called me back hours later but I didn’t pick it up. I wrote my sister, who I don’t keep in touch with much, a postcard and mailed it to her. I didn’t say why I was doing it or offer any explanation.

I’m present with my dog Star more. I’m really loving on her these days. She seems to be happy, but she pees on the rug sometimes when I’m not home. I keep having to buy a new 5' x 7' area rug from Ikea. I purchased a wet vacuum and special dog urine solution to try and clean the rug, but it doesn’t really get the smell out. If I want to be near the rug, I have to keep spraying it with lavender air freshener every 30 minutes or so.

I watch movies like 20th Century Women and pause them halfway thru to write my thoughts. I can’t seem to sit through an entire movie except in a theater where it’s socially inappropriate and a waste of money to take a break from the movie.

I had a dream last night. I was an underwater adventurer, and I was teaching kids how to be like me. It was a new thing for me to teach. I liked it because teaching improv has become old hand and not as interesting as it once was to me. What you do when you’re repeating yourself? When you are changing other people’s lives, but you are not changed yourself by the process anymore. You aren’t really learning anymore. You are simply practicing what you are good at. Ironically, you’re better at doing it than ever. I’ve gotten so much stronger as a teacher since I first began, even though I thought I was hot shit back then. But it’s not so much fun to teach anymore. I’m just repeating the same lesson plans I’ve found successful, with minor variations. And teaching improv doesn’t add up to anything tangible — you are working to change a person’s approach to fear and make-believe by 10–15%. You are making small changes in their brain patterns that you hope will stick post-class. It takes a long time for someone to become an excellent improviser. People tell me I’ve made a difference, but somehow it doesn’t reach my heart or mean as much as I wish it would.

But in my dream, the kid students and I go swimming one morning in the early AM. I improvise a lesson plan in undersea diving and using our magical powers. We travel into the water mains underneath an unknown city, practicing our moves and having mock battles with bad guys. It’s like a timed video game where the kids and I are trying to defeat these endless waves of low-level baddies via our moves and powers. The time flies by. We’re quite successful at beating the game. There’s a slight element of danger, but mostly overall it’s just a ton of fun. We end our diving lesson and go back to the central water facility, where I drop off the kids. As I’m toweling myself off, I bump into my old bosses from a previous job and tell them a bit about my lesson. I’m nervous they will be angry that I have new employment, but they aren’t. I explain how old ways wore me down, and I wanted to rekindle my energy doing something new. I share some of the insights I gleaned while teaching, and I get some feedback from these old mentors of mine. We pow-wow, and I feel like I’m part of a team.

I wake up and realize how much being part of an inner circle means to me. It’s what I really want. To be part of a family. Then, I tell myself to meditate, but I don’t do it.

Instead, I think, “If you stop asking questions, you’ll run out of ideas,” and I log into my email. And I do some things and kill some time and make it to the end of the day, when I write this story.